2024-02-09 By Surbhi Chauhan General

"Nurturing Future Success: Paytm's Strategic Move to Acquire Bitsila Amid Regulatory Turbulence"


In a strategic move amidst regulatory uncertainties, Paytm, the leading fintech giant, is reportedly on the verge of finalizing a deal to acquire Bitsila, a compatible e-commerce startup gaining adherence in the market.

Sources reveal that Bitsila, headquartered in Bengaluru, currently ranks as the third-largest seller-side platform by transactions on the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), indicating its significant presence in the digital commerce landscape. The acquisition deal, already in advanced stages, is anticipated to conclude within the upcoming week, as per insiders familiar with the matter.

Although specifics regarding the deal size and its financial structure remain unconfirmed, industry watchers eagerly await the official announcement.

Founded in 2020 by Dasharatham Bitla and Sooryah Pokkali, Bitsila has garnered attention in the startup sphere, securing a pre-seed funding round from notable backers such as Antler India and Phanindra Sama, the founder of Redbus. Notably, Bitsila operates as a B2B seller-side app within the ONDC ecosystem, facilitating the onboarding of small-scale merchants onto the network.

Paytm's involvement in ONDC dates back to 2022 when it emerged as one of the pioneering buyer apps to integrate with the open network. With the imminent acquisition of Bitsila, Paytm aims to fortify its position within ONDC, extending its reach to encompass the seller-side spectrum as well. This strategic drive comes at a crucial juncture for Paytm, as the company faces heightened scrutiny from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) due to various regulatory concerns, including foreign exchange violations and lapses in Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols.

The regulatory spotlight intensified following revelations of significant irregularities in KYC procedures, posing substantial risks to customers, depositors, and wallet holders. RBI's investigations uncovered instances where a single PAN was linked to an excessive number of customers, surpassing prescribed regulatory limits and raising red flags over potential money laundering activities.

Amidst regulatory turbulence, Paytm's stock witnessed a notable downturn, closing at Rs 447 per share on Thursday, marking a 10 percent decline within the trading day.

Paytm's ONDC Vision

Undeterred by regulatory challenges, Paytm remains steadfast in its commitment to leverage ONDC as a pivotal driver of growth. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of the fintech unicorn, reiterated the company's ambitious target of onboarding 10 million merchants onto ONDC by the end of 2025. Speaking at an ONDC hackathon in Delhi, Sharma underscored the significance of commerce as a natural extension of Paytm's ecosystem.

Highlighting the exponential growth witnessed by ONDC, Sharma emphasized its burgeoning role in reshaping India's e-commerce landscape. Notably, ONDC recorded a significant uptick in retail purchases, surpassing 3 million transactions in January alone, marking a substantial increase compared to previous figures.

Furthermore, the platform facilitated 3.5 million mobility bookings during the same period, indicative of its expanding footprint across diverse sectors. Sharma reiterated ONDC's potential to democratize e-commerce by dismantling traditional barriers, thereby empowering a broader spectrum of players to participate in the digital economy.

As ONDC continues to gain momentum, Paytm remains poised to capitalize on emerging opportunities, reaffirming its commitment to driving innovation and fostering inclusive growth within the digital ecosystem.